WASHINGTON, D.C. -- House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte issued the statement below following President Obama's speech in which he outlined potential reforms to some of our nation's intelligence-gathering programs operated under the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA):
"I am glad the President has finally acknowledged what I and many others concluded long ago, namely, that the section 215 bulk telephone data collection program is in need of significant reform in order to restore the trust of the American people and to protect Americans' civil liberties. While I agree that the government storage of this information is one real concern that needs to be addressed, there are many others. In addition, third party storage itself is a very difficult proposal that raises additional concerns.
"The House Judiciary Committee has primary jurisdiction over the legal framework of these programs and has conducted aggressive oversight on this issue. While we await the additional recommendations the President has promised from the national security agencies by March 28th, the Committee plans to move forward and hold a hearing in the coming weeks on the recommendations made by President Obama today as well as those made by the President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. We must ensure our nation's intelligence collection programs include real protections for Americans' civil liberties, robust oversight, and additional transparency.
"I look forward to working with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, the Administration, our national security agencies, and civil liberties advocates, among others, to reform these programs so that they restore the trust of the American people, protect Americans' civil liberties, and continue to protect Americans from further acts of terror."
Background: Chairman Goodlatte met with President Obama and a select group of members of Congress and Senators a week ago, as well as last August, to discuss reforms to our nation's foreign surveillance programs. In addition, the House Judiciary Committee has closely examined this issue over the past several months. In July 2013, the Committee held a public hearing to examine the statutory authorities that govern certain surveillance programs operated under FISA, in which the Committee heard from officials from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and from civil liberties groups. In September 2013, the Committee also held a classified hearing where members of the House Judiciary Committee were afforded the opportunity to further probe government officials from the DOJ, the ODNI, the NSA, and the FBI about our nation's surveillance programs.